Family Ties Go by Different Names in Different Cultures

There is a Yiddish term for the parents of your son or daughter-in-law. The word is Machatunim and is plural. I think it’s a very useful word. When your adult child falls in love and gets married you want very much for your two families to get along and share happiness. As you are building this relationship it is useful to have a specific word.  In my case, my daughter-in-law is of Mexican descent and she informed me that there is a similar word in Spanish. How perfect for us all! In Spanish the in-laws are called, consuegros. So my husband and I are Faviola and Manuel’s consuegros.

When you are blending two different cultures, in this case American Jews and Mexican Americans, you look for things that comfortably fit together. The first and most obvious thing is our children and their wellbeing. But after that, what? I learned that Faviola loves homemade bread with her coffee. So I make a point of making a loaf of challah for her whenever I can. My daughter-in-law says when she brings a loaf with her on a visit to her mom that her mother whisks it away, saying, “For my coffee!” You can image how that warms my heart. My in-laws all love hot food – much too hot for me. So when Faviola makes her delicious Chicken Tinga she always saves some out for me before adding the hot peppers.

How will we sort out holidays, religions, traditions, and grandchildren’s desires? I think we will start by loving each other and wanting the best for each member of the family. I know it will be hard on my devout Catholic machatunim to not have their grandchildren baptized. So I will make a point of reassuring them that God loves and “saves” Jews as well as Christians. I have gathered information that I think may help – from a Catholic perspective.

What are some of the ways that you bring together your differing family traditions?

Some tips and articles:

Free and low-cost High Holiday services around the Bay Area

My Christian Boyfriend loves Yom Kippur, Won’t all Christians?

The Practices of Yom Kippur

Rosh Hashanah Bird Rolls (one of my favorite holiday foods)

What should we do with the kids during the High Holidays?


Introduction to the Jewish Experience (Online)
Adult Hebrew for Beginners (Oakland)
S’lichot Stories and Service (Berkeley)
Selichot Sovev (Foster City)
Sephardic Selichot (Sunnyvale)
Lunch and Learn (Walnut Creek)
How to Talk to Our Children About the World Around Them (Foster City)
Musical Shabbat (Redwood City)
Rosh Hashanah Family Picnic (Mill Valley)
Erev Sukkot (San Francisco)
Tot Shabbat (Tiburon)
Judaism 101 (Tiburon)

Introduction to the Jewish Experience (Online)
This is the online-only version of the three-part series Introduction to the Jewish Experience. The online course follows the topics of the main course, and takes place on Sundays. Introduction to the Jewish Experience, which can be taken in any order, introduces students to Jewish culture, history, and practice. Communal and individual Jewish life dances to the rhythm of two different cycles: Jewish lifecycle events and the cycle of the Jewish year.

This Fall’s course topic is Jewish Practice & Lifestyle, Part One (Part Two will commence in Spring 2020; the topic for Winter 2020 will be History & Texts)

Dates:  Sunday, September 15, 2019 thru Sunday, November 10, 2019
Time:   3:30 to 5:00pm
Cost:    $144/student
Sign up here
PLEASE NOTE: The class has already begun but you can still join in. Simply sign up and speak to the teacher, Rabbi Adar, about viewing the previous recorded session(s).


Adult Hebrew for Beginners
This beginner’s class for adult Hebrew learners does not presume anything except your interest and attendance. Learn to decode (recognize and sound out printed Hebrew), recognize some basic vocabulary of the prayer service, and increase your comfort and enthusiasm for Hebrew prayer and song. Join us and watch how much fun and how satisfying it is to progress as a Hebrew learner. It’s never too late to begin the Alef-Bet. Click here to register. For questions about the class, please contact Elaine.

Dates:  Sundays, September 15 to December 15
Time:   1:15 – 2:30pm
Place:   Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Cost:    $180
P.S. Elaine Bachrach is one of the women that I was determined to be when I grew up – smart, tough, funny and knows her Hebrew. You couldn’t be in better hands. It doesn’t matter that the class has started, Elaine will be delighted to have you join.

S’lichot Stories and Service
Prepare for the Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe) by sharing and hearing personal stories of teshuva, change, and spiritual growth. This storytelling evening, a la The Moth, will feature congregants sharing stories with humor and an open heart. We’ll start with havdalah at 7:45pm, share stories 8-9:30pm, and conclude 9:30-10:30 with a musical and meditative S’lichot service led by Rabbi Chai Levy.

7:45pm: Havdalah Service
8:00pm: Storytelling
9:30pm: Slichot Service

Date:   Saturday, September 21
Time:   Begins at 7:45
Place:   Netivot Shalom, 1316 University Avenue, Berkeley

Selichot Sovev
Begin your High Holiday spiritual preparation with learning with Rabbi Corey Helfand at 9 pm followed by a special holiday “Sovev” service in the round. We will dedicate our new High Holiday Torah covers and sing your favorite holiday melodies.

Date:   Saturday, September 21
Time:   9-11 pm
Place:   Peninsula Sinai Congregation, 499 Boothbay Avenue, Foster City

Sephardic Selichot
Following the Sephardic tradition of gathering at sunrise, members of Etz Chayim, Kol Emeth and Keddem are invited to this beautiful service at the Baylands at the very end of San Antonio. Bring a flashlight as it will be dark when the service starts. Chairs will not be provided, so be sure to bring a chair, if you’ll want one.

Date:   Sunday, September 22
Time:   6:15 am
Place:   Baylands, Sunnyvale. See the map linked above.

Lunch and Learn
Join Rabbi Chabon for a special series of fun, interactive and informative learning sessions designed to help you prepare for the High Holidays. Bring a brown bag lunch!

Date:   Tuesday, September 24
Time:   12-1pm
Place:  Congregation B’nai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek


How to Talk to Our Children About the World Around Them
Our children live in a world that is increasingly more unpredictable and frightening. How can parents help them cope with this new reality? This workshop will focus on how to discuss recent events with your children in a developmentally appropriate way while also gaining an understanding of how they may perceive violent events depending on their age and temperament.

Date;   Thursday, September 26
Time:   7 pm
Place:   Wornick Jewish Day School, 800 Foster City Blvd, Foster City
Free admission.
Co-sponsored by the PJCC and Wornick Jewish Day School.
For adults only please. 


Musical Shabbat
Come sing, relax, and unwind. Led by members.

Date:   Friday, September 27
Time:   7:30pm
Place:   Congregation Beth Jacob, 1550 Alameda de las Pulgas, Redwood City

Rosh Hashanah Family Picnic
Join Kol Shofar families and other families in the community for a special morning of fun (& a little learning).

Date:   Sunday, September 29
Time:   10:30a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Place:   Boyle Park, Mill Valley
RSVP for free here
For more information on Jewish education at Kol Shofar, contact Dawn Castelli at:
Cosponsored with: PJ LIbrary:, Camp Ramah Northcal: 

Erev Sukkot
Sukkah opening party with Cantor Inés Kapustiansky of Buenos Aires. Enjoy a cornucopia of music, drinks and food around the sukkah.
Cantor Ines Kapustiansky became a cantor in 2009 through the Jewish Theological Seminary of Buenos Aires.

Date:   Sunday, Oct. 13
Time:   5–7 pm
Place:   Sherith Israel, 2266 California St., San Francisco
Sign up here

Tot Shabbat
An experience for children six and under with singing, stories, learning the service and community. It concludes with Kiddush and we all join the rest of the Kol Shofar community at about noon for the best Shabbat lunch in town!

Our service is led by Asaf, our JCC Preschool music teacher and the Kol Shofar Rabbis.
An RSVP is appreciated but not required to

Dates:  Oct. 19, Nov. 23, Dec. 21, Jan. 25, Feb. 22, March 28, April 25 & May 23
Time:   11am
Place:   Kol Shofar,  215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon

Judaism 101
with Rabbis Leider & Steinberg in partnership with the Miller Introduction to Judaism Program
Kol Shofar offers an 18-week Judaism 101 course each year in partnership with the Miller Introduction to Judaism program at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles.

This 18-week course is for those who would like to learn about Judaism from the ground up, or to fill in gaps from what they learned (or didn’t learn) as a child. The class also prepares those considering conversion. It covers Hebrew pronunciation, biblical and rabbinic writings, history and culture, holy days, festivals, Shabbat, Jewish concepts of God and ethics, life cycle, dietary laws and Israel. By the end of the course, students will be able to read aloud any Hebrew text with vowels. Students who wish to take a single class by topic may do so. Topical learning begins a half hour into the session.

Read more about the class topics here.

 Dates: Tuesdays beginning Oct 29
Time:   6:00 – 8:30 pm
Place:   Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon
Cost:    $275 for the 18-week series or $20 per class for the community; Free for members
To register or for more information, contact Dawn at or (415) 388-1818 x100